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    Re: ebay: Navigation School Workbook 1886
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2006 Mar 22, 01:23 EST

    Lu Abel, you wrote:
    "there may be another explanation of why lunars were  found in
    an 1886 textbook:   Navigation is inherently a very  conservative
    profession, and text-book writers often carry that to an  extreme.  So
    while in practice lunars may well have been abandoned by  the 1850s or
    so, it's not surprising that they were still thoroughly covered  in a
    textbook, "just in case your chronometer fails." "
    
    Yes, I agree  completely. Navigators are a naturally conservative group, very
    reasonably, too.  Navigation instructors and navigation textbook authors even
    more conservative.  And navigation license administrators more so still. The
    workbook for sale on  ebay is certainly interesting. It simply has to be
    understood for what it is. It  shows us some of what a student was required to
    learn how to do for a specific  license in 1886. Like many tests we've all taken
    in our lives, some of the  material would literally never be used in practice.
    But if the old man says 'do  it or you fail the class', then yes, we grumble
    but we do it.
    
    Late 19th century lunarian die-hards invented some convoluted stories  trying
    to suggest scenarios when lunars might still be necessary in an era of
    cheap, accurate chronometers. I've mentioned previously on the list a "letter to
    the editor" from 1898 wondering whether the Spanish-American War might test the
     theory that a vessel in wartime might need lunars if many "prizes" (vessels)
    are  captured from the enemy. The logic was that the enemy crew might toss
    their  chronometers overboard (!), and the crew sailing the prize back to port
    would  have to resort to lunars after the spare chronometers from their own
    vessel have  run out.
    
    You also wrote:
    "Also, if any remember, I challenged this list a year or so by asking  "if
    you had $1,000 to spend on navigational instruments for taking  a
    pleasure craft on a round-the-world voyage, how would you spend  it?"
    Most replies included an expensive sextant (an Astra, at least, not  a
    Davis for sure) and either no or just one GPS among the items to  be
    purchased.   Who, us, conservative???"
    
    Ask us to daydream, and we will! Though I barely sail, I would still
    fantasize about some future voyage of self-reliance, just me and the Sun and the
    Moon and no stinkin' technology. But in truth, if could do it, and I  had any
    passengers not fully cognizant and mature enough to be  informed of the risks, I
    would feel morally bound to use only the most  reliable tools, and for now
    that means GPS. I'll bring the sextant to show off  and entertain myself. 
    
    It's telling that everyone included an "expensive" sextant. I mentioned to
    someone just today that this generation of sextant enthusiasts, who are
    learning  celestial for a high-end hobby and personal challenge, are much more likely
    to  pay up for high-end instruments than the previous generation of
    navigators for  whom celestial navigation was more utilitarian. There are similarly
    more people  today who might buy an instrument that looks nice on a display stand
    even if it  works miserably, or not at all, in practice.
    
    -FER
    42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N  72.1W.
    www.HistoricalAtlas.com/lunars
    
    
    

       
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